In the latest edition of the RACV Royal Auto magazine (Dec 2011-Jan 2012) is an article by Tricia Welsh that comes just when you might be travelling on holidays (in Victoria that is), so we thought we’d bring it to your attention. It’s online here. It’s a listing and description of what has become a real delight to us in the world of Regional Food. I’m sure you’ve noticed the way that a new generation of storekeepers are rebuilding the tradition of small local general stores (and often nowdays adding a cafe, and selling wine as wel). These are people who believe that their region can support a small outlet for quality local goods and understand the economics of doing it. The former storekeepers either didn’t understand the changes around them or just gave up in the face of supermarket competition in nearby bigger towns. Tricia describes it as ‘progress moving in’ but it’s a lot more complex than that.
There’s a process of small farm and local business closures that cut the economic base from the town, which then leaves affordable properties for tree-changers. They don’t want to see the old buildings demolished because that was part of the character that attracted them to the region, and with the realities of making a living from a farm, many head for a second job or create their own. These new owners don’t just want to sell ‘commodities’ so they promote regional produce and crafts knowing the advantages of ‘value adding’. Among them are the seasoned hospitality professionals who just know a bargain business and growth opportunity.
This has often caused a regeneration of a region, and we’ve told you stories of towns like Jugiong in NSW where the Long Flat Pantry revitalised a town bypassed by the Hume Highway. There are lots more.
These are Tricia’s pick of the best re-born or new Victorian country stores. I’ve added some links to their relevant websites (yep that’s another sign of recognising change and good marketing). See her RACV Royal Auto article for all the details. Be aware if you’re travelling, many of these places close early.
Otway NouriShed, 3810 Colac-Lavers Hill Rd, Ferguson, 5235 9226. Open 10am-5.30pm daily. Owner Amy Bain
The Wye General Store, 35 Great Ocean Rd, Wye River, 5289 0247. Open 7am-10pm daily. Owners Dave Sharry and Richie Ludbrook.
Moriac General Store, 561 Cape Otway Rd, 5266 1229. Open Mon-Fri 6.30am-6.30pm, Sat-Sun and public holidays 8am-6pm. Owned by the Eddy family. The adjoining Off the Rails cafe serves light meals.
Birregurra General Store, 59-61 Main St, 5236 2013. Open Mon-Tue 6am-6pm, Wed 6am-8pm, Thu-Sat 6am-8.30pm, Sun 7am-8.30pm. Owner Joe Habib.